Bernardine Evaristo is collaborating with the Royal Society of Literature to create a mentoring award scheme for emerging authors of colour as part of a £300,000 Sky Arts project.
Evaristo has been named one of five Sky Arts Ambassadors, each in charge of £30,000 per year, for two years, to create their own bursary scheme and nurture new talent.
The Booker Prize winner will use her money to create the Sky Arts RSL Writers Awards. Open to emerging writers of colour across different literary forms, five award winners will receive 10 mentoring sessions over 12 months with a leading writer, a tutorial with Evaristo and the opportunity to showcase their work at a prestigious literary venue.
RSL fellows Colin Grant, Tanika Gupta, Irenosen Okojie, Pascale Petit and Roy Williams will be mentoring in non-fiction, screenwriting, fiction, poetry and playwriting. The awards open for submissions today.
Evaristo said: ‘It’s essential to create new initiatives to help make our culture more inclusive for those from under-represented and marginalised communities. I’m looking forward to discovering and mentoring the next generation of talented writers through this wonderful Sky Arts and RSL programme.”
Daljit Nagra, RSL chair, commented: “Most writers of colour often toil in the wilderness for years before they are recognised. This programme will not only develop talented writers, it will also shine a light on them.”
Dance artist and choreographer Akram Khan, sculptor Anish Kapoor, conductor Charles Hazlewood and artistic director of Theatre Royal Stratford East, Nadia Fall, have also been named as ambassadors and will run their own schemes.
Phil Edgar-Jones, director of Sky Arts and Entertainment, commented: “In 2021, as we search for a way out of the pandemic, we are turning our attention to the cultural recovery and, in particular, the difficulties facing the next generation of young arts practitioners in a world where opportunities have drastically diminished.
“Our new ambassador scheme is the cornerstone of this activity, and we are lucky to have five of the leading lights in their fields running bursaries which provide funding and mentoring to up-coming talent. We are looking forward to working with them all and watching some incredible new work take shape.”
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